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Suicide Bomb Kills 1 NATO Troop, 4 Afghans

A suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy crossing a bridge outside the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Monday, tossing a military vehicle into a ravine and killing one NATO service member and four Afghan civilians, officials said.

The attacker waited in a station wagon taxi near the bridge, which NATO troops regularly check for explosives, said Inhamullah Khan, an Afghan army official at the bombing site. Special Report: Afghanistan

The attack killed one NATO service member, said Maj. Marcin Walczak of the Polish Army, a spokesman for the international military coalition. He did not provide the nationality or any other details.

The Interior Ministry confirmed four civilian deaths in a statement. Three of the civilians who died were in a car that had pulled over nearby to wait for the convoy to pass, Khan said.

Another car bomb Monday outside Kandahar city's police headquarters killed one police officer and wounded nine other officers and six civilians, provincial Police Chief Sardar Mohammad Zazai said.

Kandahar city is the capital of the province of the same name that is considered the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban. It lies east of Helmand province, where thousands of U.S., NATO and Afghan troops are conducting a 2-week-old offensive to wrest control of the town of Marjah from insurgents.

Marjah has long been controlled by the Taliban, and the assault is seen as the first step in a multi-month offensive that will eventually target insurgent strongholds around Kandahar city.

The new southern offensive, involving thousands of American troops along with Afghan soldiers, is the largest combined assault since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime.

It is the first test of NATO's new counterinsurgency strategy since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 new U.S. troops to Afghanistan late last year.

The allied forces have cleared most of Marjah and are now working to secure the area, though NATO has warned there could be pockets of violence for weeks. Hundreds of Afghan police and civil servants are being brought in with the goal of establishing public services to win the support of the population.

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